All about the name Alexander

Copyright Юрий Абрамочкин (Yuriy Abramochkin)

In loving memory of my favourite writer, Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, on what would’ve been his 99th birthday, I decided to have a post about his lovely name. I had a previous post about my favourite forms of the name, but that didn’t include all forms, nor did it include much background information.

Alexander is the Latinized form of the Greek Alexandros, which means “defender of man.” It’s composed of the elements alexo (to defend/help) and aner (andros in the genitive case) (man). As almost everyone knows, its most famous bearer has been Alexander the Great of Macedonia, who rose to become emperor of Greece, Egypt, Persia, and parts of India.

Alexander the Great’s fame and popularity was such that his name became widespread through many of the areas he’d conquered and ruled. Through the ages, famous bearers of the name in its various forms have included kings, emperors, tsars, popes, politicians, writers, scientists, inventors, explorers, artists, philosophers, and athletes.

Alexander the Great was also a fellow lefty!

Alexander was in the lower reaches of the U.S. Top 100 from 1880–96, and crept back into those ranges a number of times again over the years. It slowly began sinking in popularity in 1918, with a few years when it slightly rose in popularity. Its lowest rank was #233 in 1959.

After this, it began a nearly uninterrupted steady climb into the Top 10. Its highest rank was #4 in 2009. In 2011, it was #11.

The name is also popular in Iceland (#2), Canada (#6), Sweden (#7), Scotland (#8), Austria  and Australia (#9 in both), Mexico (#13), Denmark (#16), England and Wales (#21), Belgium (#22), Norway and New Zealand (both #30), Switzerland (#35), Ireland and Northern Ireland (#46 in both), Chile (#56), The Netherlands (#79), Poland (#93), the Czech Republic (#94), Hungary (#98), and Italy (#109).

Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine, the future Empress Aleksandra of Russia, before so much sadness began invading her life

The feminine form Alexandra is also quite common, though not as much as its male counterpart. It entered the U.S. Top 100 at #945 in 1915, immediately dropped out the next year, returned at #992 in 1934, again dropped out, was #941 in 1936, and finally entered long-term at #866 in 1938.

The name slowly climbed to the Top 100, with some quite large leaps in the early Eighties. Its highest rank was #26 in 1995 and 1996. Alexandra’s popularity slowly diminished, and by 2016, it was #110.

Alexander is used in English, Greek, the Scandinavian languages, Icelandic, Hungarian, German, Dutch, and Slovak. Alexandra is used in English, German, Dutch, French, Hungarian, Portuguese, Greek, Icelandic, Italian, Spanish, the Scandinavian languages, Slovak, Czech, and Romanian.

U.S. inventor Alexander Graham Bell

Other forms of Alexander:

1. Aleksandr is Russian, Ukranian, and Armenian. Russian nicknames include Sasha, Sanya (my favourite writer’s own nickname), Shura, Sanyechka, Sashenka, Shurik, Sashura, and Shuryenka.

2. Aleksander is Polish, Estonian, Slovenian, Danish, and Norwegian. The variation Aleksandër is Albanian. Nicknames include Aleks and Olek (Polish); Sander and Alex (Norwegian and Danish); Sašo, Saša, Sandi, Aleks, and Aleš (Slovenian); and Skender (Albanian).

3. Alyaksandr is Belarusian.

4. Alexandru is Romanian, with the nicknames Sandu and Alex.

5. Aleksandar is Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian, and Croatian. Nicknames include Sasho (Bulgarian and Macedonian); Saša (Serbian and Croatian); Sandi (Croatian); Ace (Macedonian); and Aco and Aca (Serbian and Macedonian).

6. Alessandro is Italian.

7. Aleksandro is Esperanto, with the nickname Aleĉjo.

8. Alexandre is French, Galician, Catalan, and Portuguese.

9. Aleksandrs is Latvian.

10. Aleksanteri is Finnish, with nicknames including Ale, Samppa, Santeri, and Santtu.

French writer Alexandre Dumas père

11. Alesander is Basque.

12. Aleksandras is Lithuanian.

13. Alasdair is Scottish. It’s most often Anglicized as Alastair.

14. Aleksandur is Faroese.

15. Aleksantare is Greenlandic.

16. Alagsantere is also Greenlandic.

17. Alekanekelo is Hawaiian.

18. Alessandru is Sardinian.

19. Alexandro is Brazilian–Portuguese and Spanish.

20. Alissandru is Sicilian.

Pope Alexander VII, né Fabio Chigi, 13 February 1599–22 May 1667

21. Alyksandr is Abkhaz and Ossetian.

22. Alyok is Mordvin.

23. Alastar is Irish.

24. Aleksandre is Georgian, with the nickname Sandro.

25. Alexandr is Czech, with the nickname Aleš.

26. Alexandros is Greek, with the nickname Alekos.

27. Eskender is Amharic.

28. Iskandar is Arabic, Indonesian, and Malaysian.

29. Sándor (SHAHN-dor) is Hungarian. One of the nicknames is Sanyi.

30. Sikandar is Pashto and Urdu.

Tsar Aleksandr II of Russia

31. Eskandar is Persian.

32. Alejandro is Spanish.

33. Sender is Yiddish.

34. Oleksandr is Ukrainian, with nicknames including Olek, Oles, and Sasha.

35. Chandy is Malayalam, a language spoken in India.

36. Eskendir is Kazakh.

37. Isgandar is Azeri.

38. Îskenderê is Kurdish.

39. Jinoquio is Romany Caló.

40. İskender is Turkish.

King Alexander of Greece, 1 August 1893–25 October 1920

41. Lixandro is Aragonese.

42. Lisandru is Sardinian and Corsican.

43. Lexu is Swiss–German.

44. Santӑr is Chuvash.

45. Xandru is Maltese.

Other forms of Alexandra:

1. Aleksandra is Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Polish, Slovenian, Serbian, Macedonian, Estonian, Latvian, Albanian, and Croatian. Its Russian nicknames are the same as those for Aleksandr. Sasha is also a Ukrainian nickname. Others include Sanda (Croatian), Saša (Slovenian and Croatian), Lesya and Alesya (Ukrainian), Ola (Polish), and Sashka (Macedonian and Bulgarian).

Queen Alexandra of England, née Princess of Denmark

2. Alexandrine is French and German.

3. Alexandrie is French.

4. Alessandra is Italian.

5. Alesandere is a rare, modern Basque name.

6. Alejandra is Spanish.

7. Aletsandra is Occitan.

8. Alyaksandra is Belarusian.

9. Alissandra is Sicilian.

10. Oleksandra is Ukrainian.

11. Alexandria is English. I always preferred this name with long As.

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Dusty, screaming, shrieking names

Continuing with the theme of Halloween-type names, here are some names whose meanings relate to the words “dust,” “scream,” and “shriek.”

Unisex:

Kiran means “dust,” “sunbeam,” and “thread” in Sanskrit.

Male:

Aldonas is a rare Lithuanian name possibly derived from the Old Lithuanian ver aldoti (to scream, to shout, to make noise), combined with the patronymical suffix onis.

Emathion means “sandy” in Greek, derived from emathoeis, which in turn is derived from amathos (dust, sand, sandy soil).

Galarr means “screamer” in Old Norse.

Gillingr roughly means “son of a scream” or “belonging to a scream” in Old Norse.

Hawar means “to scream” in Sorani, a Kurdish language.

Kanzou can mean “three screams,” “storehouse of screams,” “to hide a scream,” “to own a scream,” “scream structure,” “scream physique,” and “to make a scream” in Japanese.

Kekrops means “screaming voice” in Greek.

Kyousei can mean, roughly, “to scream at a star” or “star scream” in Japanese.

Female:

Agasaya may mean “shrieker.” She was an early Semitic goddess of war, who later merged into Ishtar as the warrior of the sky.

Aphra, or Aphrah, is both a variation of a Latin nickname for an African woman and a variation of Afrah, a Biblical place name meaning “dust.” Aphrah is the common Anglicization of the Hebrew Afrah.

Himei can mean “scream” and “shriek” in Japanese.

Silvery, golden names

To continue with the theme of my last post, here are some more names related to metals, though a bit more upscale than the previous ones. Whereas almost all of the names I found relating to metal, steel, iron, copper, and bronze were male, these names relating to gold and silver are much more evenly distributed among the sexes.

Unisex:

Aurum means “gold” in Latin.

Hiran means “silver” in Thai.

Hopea means “silver” in Finnish.

Jin can mean “gold, metal, money” in Chinese.

Jinhua can mean “brilliance/magnificence of gold” in Chinese.

Jinyu can mean “gold feather,” “gold jade,” and “gold, flawless gem” in Chinese.

Kanok means “gold” in Thai.

Kulta means “gold” and “dear, darling” in Finnish.

Lipaz means “my gold” in Hebrew.

Olaedo means “gold” in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria.

Paz means “gold” in Hebrew.

Souvankham is a Lao name derived from suvan (gold) and kham (golden, precious).

Souvanna means “gold” in Lao.

Spinzar literally means “white gold” in Pashto, though in actual practice means “silver.”

Vanna means “golden” in Khmer.

Vendi means “silver” in Telugu.

Voski means “gold” in Armenian.

Yari is a Spanish–Caribbean name supposedly derived from a Taino word meaning “small gold jewelry.”

Female:

Aranka means “gold” in Hungarian, and is also used as their form of Aurelia, which means the same thing. One of the nicknames is Ari.

Argenta is an Italian name of Greek origin, meaning “silver.”

Arianrhod means “silver wheel” or “round wheel” in Welsh.

Arianwen means “blessed/white/fair silver” in Welsh.

Altynai means “golden Moon” in Kazakh and Kyrgyz.

Altynshash means “golden voice” in Kazakh.

Anacaona means “golden flower” in Taino.

Aouregan means “golden face” or “shining gold” in Breton.

Ardita means “golden day” in Albanian.

Arjeta means “golden life” in Albanian.

Arlinda means “golden birth” in Albanian.

Arta means “golden” in Albanian.

Auria, or Aurea, means “golden” in Latin.

Ayzik means “gold” in Nivkh, a language spoken in Outer Manchuria.

Chrysanthemum means “golden flower” in Greek. I prefer this as a middle name paired with a shorter forename.

Chrysopelia means “golden dove” in Greek.

Dinara is a rare but gorgeous Russian, Kazakh, and Tatar name derived from the name of the Persian golden coin.

Eurddolen means “golden ring” in Welsh.

Eurgain means “splendid gold” in Welsh.

Eurwen is a Welsh name derived from the elements aur (gold) and gwen (white, fair, blessed).

Fidda means “silver” in Arabic.

Genji means “gold” in Chinese, and is somewhat of a rare name.

Ginko means “silver child” in Japanese.

Golda is Yiddish.

Gulazer means “golden rose” in Kurdish.

Hema means “golden” in Sanskrit.

Kanaka means “gold” in Sanskrit.

Kanchana means “golden” in Sanskrit.

Kezîzer means “golden fringe” in Kurdish.

Kula means “gold” in Hawaiian.

Lalzari means “golden ruby” in Pashto.

Lamar means “liquid gold” in Arabic. I’d avoid this in the Anglophone world, where the name (albeit with a different etymology) is exclusively male.

Lujayn means “silver” in Arabic.

Masayu means “pretty/beautiful gold” in Malay.

Millaray means “golden flower” in Mapuche.

Nubia possibly derives from the Ancient Egyptian nbw (gold).

Orabela means “golden-beautiful” in Esperanto.

Oravera means “true gold” in Judeo–Italian.

Órfhlaith means “golden princess” in Irish. Simplified, Anglicized forms are Orla, Orlagh, and Órlaith.

Oria is an Italian name probably derived from the Latin aurum, the Spanish oro, or the French or (gold). The elaborated form is Oriana.

Oriane, or Orianne, is the French version of Oriana.

Orinda is an English name possibly derived from the Spanish oro.

Orovida means “golden life” in Ladino (Judeo–Spanish).

Q’orianka means “golden eagle” in Quechuan, an indigenous South American language.

Qullqi means “silver” in Quechuan.

Quri means “gold” in Quechuan.

Quriquyllur means “golden star” in Quechuan.

Qurit’ika means “golden flower” in Quechuan.

Rukmini means “adorned with gold” in Sanskrit. This was Lord Krishna’s first wife.

Saffron is an English name which refers to the world’s most expensive spice, the flower it’s harvested from, and its orange-yellow colour. It ultimately derives from the Arabic za’faran, and probably a Persian word meaning “gold leaves.” This is also the name of Simon and Yasmin Le Bon’s middle daughter.

Silfrún is a modern Icelandic name meaning “silver secret.”

Simin means “silvery” in Persian.

Solgull is a modern Norwegian name meaning “golden Sun.”

Sona means “gold” in Hindi.

Sonal means “gold” in Hindi, Marathi, and Gujarati.

Sovanna means “golden, dream” in Khmer.

Tala means “gold” in Persian.

Teruworq means “good gold” in Amharic, the language spoken in Ethiopia.

Thangam means “gold” in Tamil.

Tylla means “gold” in Turkmeni.

Urairat means “glass and gold” in Thai.

Vosgedzin means “creator of gold” in Armenian.

Worknesh, or Werknesh, possibly means “you are like gold” in Amharic.

Wuraola means “gold of wealth” in Yoruba.

Zahava, or Zehava, means “gold” in Hebrew.

Zarafshan means “distributor of gold” in Persian.

Zarbaha means “gold” in Pashto.

Zareen means “golden” in Persian.

Zarsa means “like gold” in Persian.

Zaruhi is an Armenian name derived from the Persian zar (gold) and the Armenian feminine suffix uhi.

Zêrav means “golden water” in Kurdish.

Zêrda means “gold” in Kurdish.

Zêrgul means “golden rose” in Kurdish.

Zerrin means “golden” in Turkish.

Zlata means “golden” in Serbian, Czech, Slovenian, Slovak, Russian, Macedonian, and Croatian. The base nickname in most of those languages is Zlatica.

Zlatomira means “golden peace” in Bulgarian, Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian.

Male:

Afwerki means “mouth of gold” in Tigrinyan, a language spoken in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia.

Altanbaatar means “gold hero” in Mongolian.

Ardit means “golden day” in Albanian.

Argento means “silver” in Esperanto.

Argyros means “silver” in Greek.

Arian means “golden life” in Albanian.

Arlind means “golden birth” in Albanian.

Armend means “golden mind” in Albanian.

Armir means “good gold” or “beautiful gold” in Albanian.

Auksys is a rare Lithuanian name meaning “gold.”

Aureus means “golden, gilded” in Latin.

Aurian means “gold” or “golden” in Latin.

Draupnir means “goldsmith” in Old Norse.

Eurig means “gold” in Welsh.

Eurion means “gold” in Welsh.

Florin means “piece of gold” in Albanian.

Goldmund means “gold mouth” and “golden protection” in German. This is the name of one of the two title characters in Hermann Hesse’s excellent Narcissus and Goldmund, which is set during the Middle Ages.

Kou means “gold” in Hmong.

Nhia means “silver” in Hmong.

Okropir means “gold mouth” in Georgian.

Oriol means “golden” in Catalan.

Pazel means “God’s gold” in Hebrew.

Pazi means “my gold” in Hebrew.

Perak means “silver” in Malay.

Prak means “silver” in Khmer.

Rezart means “golden ray” in Albanian.

Wunna means “gold” in Burmese.

Zilar means “silver” in Medieval Basque.

Zlatan is the male form of Zlata, The base nickname form in most languages is Zlatko.

Zlatibor means “golden battle” in Serbian and Croatian. This is also the name of a Serbian mountain.

Zlatomir is the masculine form of Zlatomira.

Steely, metallic names

I recently discovered the History Channel’s series Forged in Fire, a reality show wherein four smiths compete to make the best weapon. Smithery and metallurgy are stereotypically male pursuits, but I’ve always been really proud of being very tomboyish.

It therefore wasn’t too much of a surprise that almost all of the names I found with meanings relating to steel, metal, iron, copper, and bronze are male names. Many of these names are also Mongolian or from Turkic languages.

Female:

Aenea means “bronze” or “copper” in Latin. This was possibly also created as a feminine form of Aeneas, which means “praise.”

Aramita is a Spanish name possibly derived from the Latin aramen, and ultimately aeramen, which means “copper, bronze.”

Kaneru means “bronze” in Japanese.

Male:

Batbold means “bold steel” in Mongolian.

Berbolat is a Chechen name derived from the Turkish military title bek (or beg), which means “master, chieftain,” and the Turkic element bolat (or bulat), which means “steel,” and ultimately derives from the Persian pulad.

Bolat means “steel” in Kazakh.

Çelik means “steel” in Turkish.

Chuluunbold means “stone steel” in Mongolian.

Demir means “iron” in Turkish.

Elidur is an archaic Welsh name, the first element of unknown etymology, and the second probably derived from dur (steel). In the 19th century, the name was resurrected as Elidor.

Ferruccio means “little iron” in Italian.

Ganbaatar means “steel hero” in Mongolian.

Ganbold means “steel steel” in Mongolian.

Gansükh means “steel axe” in Mongolian.

Gantulga means “steel hearth” in Mongolian.

Ganzorig means “steel courage” in Mongolian.

Gobán possibly means “little smith” in Irish.

Goibniu means “smith” in Irish. He was a smith god, and provided weapons for the Tuatha De Danann.

Hephaestus is the Latinized form of the Greek Hephaistos, the god of fire, forging, and metallurgy. He was also a fellow limper.

Ilmarinen is a Finnish name which partly derives from ilma (air). He’s an immortal smith in Finnish mythology, and the creator of the sky and the magic mill Sampo.

Kaneki can mean “metal tree” in Japanese.

Kañ-ool means “steel boy” and “steel son” in Tuvan, a Turkic language spoken in south-central Siberia.

Khurşӑ means “steel” in Chuvash, a Turkic language spoken in central Russia.

Nurbolat is a Kazakh name composed of the elements nur (light) and bolat (steel).

Pola means “steel” in Kurdish.

Rentarou can mean “son of thick smelt metals” in Japanese.

Shoiynbai means “made of steel” in Kazakh.

Solon possibly means “lump of iron” in Greek.

Ståle means “steel” in Norwegian. The original Old Norse version was Stáli.

Talos was a bronze-winged automaton in Greek mythology, given to Europa for protection against invaders and pirates.

Temujin means “of iron” in Mongolian.

Timur is derived from the Turkic name Temür (iron), and is used in Uzbek, Kazakh, Tatar, Chechen, and Russian.

Tömörbaatar means “iron hero” in Mongolian.

Trahaearn means “very much like iron” in Welsh.

Tunç means “bronze” in Turkish.

Tuncay means “bronze Moon” in Turkish.

Yerbolat roughly means “steel male” or “male of steel” in Kazakh.

Zhelyazko means “iron” in Bulgarian.

Freedom names

To mark the 28th anniversary of the crushing of the Tiananmen Square protests I thought I’d put together a list of names whose meaning relates to the words “freedom” and “free.” That image of the lone man facing down a line of tanks (not just the one most commonly shown) has stayed with me and given me goosebumps since it made the news when I was nine years old.

Unisex:

Azadeh means “freedom” in Persian.

Hürriyet means “liberty, freedom” in Turkish.

Kainoa means “sea of freedom” in Hawaiian.

Kanoa means “the free one” in Hawaiian.

Liri, or Lirian, means “freedom” in Albanian.

Liron means “our freedom” in Albanian. This isn’t to be confused with the Hebrew name Liron, which means “joy for me” or “song for me.”

Ominira means “freedom, independence” in Yoruba.

Serey means “freedom” in Khmer, as well as “peace,” power, authority,” and “charm, beauty.”

Wanangwa means “freedom” in Tumbuka, a Bantu language spoken in Malawi, Zambia, and Tanzania.

Female:

Aditi means “freedom, security” or “entire, boundless” in Sanskrit. She’s the mother of all the Hindu deities, and goddess of fertility and the sky.

Cherut, or Herut, means “freedom” in Hebrew.

Eleuthera is a rare English name derived from the Ancient Greek Eleutheris, meaning “freedom, liberty.”

Elira means “to be free” in Albanian.

Isaree means “freedom” in Thai.

Libertad means “freedom, liberty” in Spanish.

Libertas means “freedom, liberty” in Latin. She was the goddess of liberty.

Lirija means “freedom” in Albanian.

Malaya means “free, independent” in Tagalog.

Nonkululeko means “freedom” in Zulu.

Qhispi means “free, freedom” in Quechan, a native South American language.

Saoirse (SEER-sha) means “freedom” in Irish.

Slobodanka means “freedom” in Serbian, Macedonian, and Croatian. A rarer form is Sloboda.

Male:

Dror means “freedom” in Hebrew. This name also means “sparrow.”

Ilir is an Albanian name derived from the Illyrian tribe from whom the present-day Albanian people are descended. It’s believed to mean “freedom” or “the free.”

Irek means “free” in Tatar and Bashkir.

Laisvydas is a rare Lithuanian name meaning “to see freedom.”

Liridon means “desire for freedom” in Albanian.

Merdeka means “free, independent” in Malay.

Neberd means “free” in Kurdish.

Nebez also means “free” in Kurdish.

Serbest means “freedom” in Kurdish.

Slobodan means “freedom” in Serbian, Macedonian, and Croatian. The nickname is Boban.

Volya is a rare Russian name meaning “freedom, will.”